San Diego, Calif., March 20, 2012 — Researchers at the University of California, San Diego are seeking participants for a two-year trial funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute that will examine the effects of social media and mobile technologies on weight loss.
The study, known as SMART or “Social/Mobile Approach to Reduce Weight,“ will examine the use of text messaging, social media and other mobile phone technologies among a cohort of university students to see if such technologies lead to a demonstrable improvement in the students’ health behaviors.
“When students come into a university environment, we know this is a big transition for them,” says program manager Anjali Kansagara of the UC San Diego-based Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems (CWPHS) at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). "We want to provide students with health information and tools they can implement into their lives to make a meaningful change and create healthy habits for a lifetime. Our ultimate goal is to roll out this concept to all college health centers across the U.S.”
Participants in the study will be randomly selected for one of two separate tracks. The first track is primarily self-paced and self-guided, although participants will be provided with information about nutrition and physical activity via the study’s website.
The second track is more technology-based and involves the use of text messaging, mobile apps and social interaction with peers and other support networks via Facebook and Twitter to determine if such networks are a viable means for providing social support. Participants using these social networks will be able to control their privacy settings during the study.
“Because students have such diverse lifestyles we’re offering them a suite of tools to tap into or leverage as they wish, to help them achieve their goals,” adds Kansagara.
Full-time students from UC San Diego, San Diego State University (SDSU) and Cal State San Marcos (CSUSM) are eligible to participate in the study. Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 35, with a body mass index of 25-35.
In addition to gaining access to clinical weight loss tools, participants in the study also have the potential to earn $330 over the course of the two-year trial, provided they commit to attending five ‘measurement visits.’ The visits involve physical, noninvasive measures such as blood pressure, height, weight, arm and waist circumference, as well as online surveys.
Each clinical visit will take place at the students’ respective universities: SDSU and CSUSM participants will be measured at their student health center, and UCSD participants at the Moores Cancer Center.
The study is led by principal investigator Dr. Kevin Patrick, MD, MS, who has a long history of research in student health. The team is also comprised of Drs. Simon Marshall, Greg Norman, William Griswold, Cheryl Rock, James Fowler, and Jeannie Huang, who are co-investigators. Drs. Tom Robinson and BJ Fogg, researchers at Stanford University, are also collaborating with CWPHS on SMART. SMART is part of the EARLY Trials — a consortium of trials across the U.S. that seek ways to prevent and/or reduce weight gain in young adults that leads to obesity in middle age.
SMART has partnered with student health professionals including Dr. Karen Calfas at UC San Diego, Dr. Maria Hanger at SDSU, and Dr. Karen Nicholson at CSUSM to recruit students from the respective campuses.
Recruitment for the study will end in May 2012. To participate, visit smarthealthstudy.com and complete an online interest form. You can also ‘like’ the study on Facebook at facebook.com/smarthealthstudy.
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